nightbirdAh, this is the sort of middle grade novel that I love: A bit timeless, a bit magical, featuring an early-teen girl finding her place in the world. Oh, and it features apples and a little early New England history. Always selling points for me.

Twig lives in a small western MA community with her mom, where she is the oddball girl in her grade – she doesn’t go to parties or friends’ houses and spends most of her time in the family apple orchard. Her mother, beautiful and guarded, is the region’s best baker and biggest mystery. Twig is painfully lonely, so when a new family moves in next door the lure of friendship is too difficult to resist. She violates family tradition, putting a long-held secret at risk, in an attempt to break out of the isolation that has cloaked her childhood. In the process, she pulls her whole family along with her, dredging up ancient history and rewriting the future.

This is a book to buy and keep, re-reading on late summer nights or when the need for gentle fantasy strikes.